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Chancellor must do more to tackle rampant rural disadvantage, campaigners urge
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RHCA Member - The South West Academic Health Science Network

The South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) works to improve the health and patient experience of people in the South West by supporting and accelerating innovation and quality improvement. As the only body that connects NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, we are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change. This is by spanning the regions health and social care economies, with a clear aim on improving outcomes for patients. We are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of cutting edge ideas and technologies across networks.

Every AHSN is driven to improve health outcomes and generate economic growth in its region. The SW AHSN recognises that our landscape faces specific challenges due to its rurality. Geographical issues of isolation are compounded by transport and technological shortcomings. As a popular retirement hotspot, the expectation and need of that incoming group, compared to the ageing agricultural/resident population, is very different. The demographic challenge is exacerbated by an outflow of young people; seeking jobs and affordable housing that, alongside the geographic issues above, continues to stifle the social and economic aspirations of the region.

The SW AHSN works within its own area to develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the diversity of our local populations and healthcare challenges. Promoting unique partnerships, medicine optimisation and opportunities for industry to work effectively with the NHS. We support and nurture local ideas with a view to pipeline these improvements into health and care nationally, as well as accelerating access and adoption of interventions back into the region.

We recognise that innovations that seed and thrive in a region that experiences the South West’s challenges are well grounded to scale nationally. This region has a broad range of experience and contributors responding to that need, but without the space, support and awareness of collaborative opportunities, which the SW AHSN can provide, these ideas may falter or fail before the benefits can be realised.

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